Book Review: Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu

AbikuSynopsis: She was called an Abiku, an evil spirit sent to this world to lure men to their doom

Dayo is a bi-racial twenty something year old with a German mom and a Nigerian dad. She has a semi bougie lifestyle, always jetting across the pond between Africa and Europe.

She starts dating her father’s driver in secret after seducing him.

On her return from her cousin’s 21st birthday in Manchester, she tries gbana (crack) for the first time. She finds herself in an alternate realm and thinks she’s hallucinating from using gbana. She doesn’t take anything that happens there seriously as she thinks she’s having a vivid dream. That is until she couldn’t wake up from getting married to a ‘man’ she met in that realm…

Review: Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu is a unique “erotic” paranormal romance set primarily in Nigeria. The protagonist, Ekundayo (Dayo) is of a blended heritage (Nigerian and German) and labeled an Abiku (witch or one born to die) due to not only this, but a particular mark of birth. Apparently, she’s revered as one of the most beautiful Nigerians because she doesn’t look Nigerian. Many girls are envious of her lighter complexion and longer hair and she earns the title ogbanje (a water spirit) because of this unnatural beauty. Throughout the book, this aspect of Dayo is made quite clear.

Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu is a telling of Dayo’s story to discover her true self. Through numerous graphic sexual encounters and some experimental drug use, she finds herself in an alternate reality. Once discovering this “world” and the intriguing man, Akin, who inhabits it, she continues using the gbana (cocaine) to relive the experience. She’s drawn to Akin’s masculinity and fears it all at once. However, her sexual desire for him outweighs her trepidation, and with great alacrity, she agrees to become his mate and they consummate that bond quickly.

Although she has another lover in the “real” world, Henry (a driver for her family), her lust and unnatural urging for Akin consumes her. During the consummation of their marriage, she understands why she’s drawn to him and also discovers the love she has for Henry.

Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu was an interesting story introducing African gods and mythologies that I’ve studied. The use of ‘Pidgin’ English was also a nice touch. Although the title includes “A Battle of Gods,” there isn’t truly a battle; not a physical one. The true battle is within, and Dayo’s choices and future aren’t certain at the book’s end.

Overall, an entertaining short read.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

RF_Official_Reviewer

Book Review: Parallel Worlds by Wynne Stevens

410ZlnXsMwL._SY346_Synopsis: Is our world unique? Many scientists theorize that there are worlds just like our own in other dimensions of time and space. We are not one-of-a-kind individuals. Copies of ourselves exist in these parallel worlds living lives virtually identical to our own. Were we able to travel across the Universe, could we observe ourselves as we live in these parallel worlds?

This story is about one young man who is given the opportunity to “visit himself” and discover how his life might have been under different circumstances. Here in this other world he finds himself as a demented and broken old man, waiting to die after a meaningless and wasted life. It is a shocking discovery. The young man undertakes the responsibility of giving the old man purpose so that he may know love one more time.

Review: Parallel Worlds by Wynne Stevens was an unexpected pleasure to read. It was reminiscent of everything that I loved about The Notebook, yet having its own flare and uniqueness. The narrative starts with our perception of reality and interpretation of that reality. It’s a brief introduction used as a segue into the essence of this wonderfully woven story.

Parallel Worlds is a story of acceptance, love, betrayal, faith, humility, sacrifice, and redemption. It’s a journey to save one soul while simultaneously allowing that positive energy to encompass another’s reality or existence. “Three Seconds” can be a lifetime, depending on what you do with them.

I loved the concept of God used throughout Parallel Worlds. It wasn’t presented in a “preachy” manner, but flowed eloquently, interwoven into the plot to move the narrative forward. I also enjoy the explanation of a Soul Mate, and how allowing yourself to truly merge with one created for you can strengthen and enhance all that you are. Albeit, rejecting that merging of spirit can have detrimental consequences. Just as choosing a path of corruption and greed can send you spiraling down a imperceptible decline of moral turpitude and destruction.

The storytelling from the demented mind of Jason was compelling and extremely touching. It truly caused me to feel for the character as he suffered through his trauma and past mistakes. However, there can always be redemption if you know where to look, and accept it when it’s offered. Emilee’s naivety and loss, made her the perfect counterpart for Jason Abrahms. And their relationship and bond was heartening.

I will definitely be reading more from Wynne Stevens.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

RF_Official_Reviewer

Book Review: Voices in Crystal by Mary Woldering

51gsH52FsyLSynopsis: When Marai, a shepherd living at the foot of Mt. Sinai in the third millennium BC, sings to his goddess one night, he sees a falling star. Tracking it, he discovers a strange vessel containing crystalline entities resembling earthly stones and gems: the Children of Stone. The Children delight in this simple shepherd and his songs of love.

They ask him to host their intelligence; to bring them to the sages and priests who have spent their lives seeking the wisdom of the stars. When he agrees, he is transformed into a godlike being. Still a passionate shepherd at heart, Marai gathers others, like lambs to his fold. His journey to the wise men of ancient Kemet won’t be easy. Things hidden, that wait in darkness, are always there.

Children of Stone Book 1 – Voices in Crystal begins Marai’s journey toward wisdom. Blending history, ancient literature, mythology, classic archetypes, and personal inspiration, Woldering takes the reader on a speculative and emotional journey through the ancient world, and worlds beyond. Marai and his companions, through the help of the Children of Stone, find themselves walking into, and becoming part of ancient legends.

“Years ago, when I began to study mythology, writes the author, it occurred to me that the gods and goddesses never seemed divine. They acted like super-talented people full of very human passions and shortcomings, appearing in different legends like threads woven into the tapestry of time and culture. This series is the story of some of these ‘gods’.”

Review: Children of Stone Book 1 by Mary Woldering is a well-crafted and detailed story encompassing several genres and epochs seamlessly. Author Woldering has an exceptional expression of prose, delivering an almost lyrically impassioned style interwoven with a dense multi-layered plot.

Marai is but one of the fascinating multi-dimensional characters that you will love. Woldering draws upon aspects of histories, ancient cultures, and religious ideologies while inserting moral lessons and challenges that cause you to not only think, but that pull you deeper into this story until you are lost in her fantastical creation.

Highly recommended. This is not only an Epic Fantasy, it is a wondrous story that magically crosses and merges genre lines with seamless perfection. I have ordered the next book in the series.

Book Review: Rites of Heirdron by Newland Moon

Rites of Heirdron - Seal.1-SM

Synopsis:  They poisoned his planet, massacred his people, and violated his mother. Now, they’re coming for him.

A bastard prince, born to a dishonored queen, Zrahnz is the last hope of a dying world nearly decimated after a treacherous interplanetary betrayal. He struggles to reclaim his legitimacy as a ruler and for his planet’s survival. But as he endeavors to unravel the manipulations of the past, a debilitating malady threatens his sanity and his life. If he cannot save himself, his planet will succumb to the corrupt intergalactic alliances aligned against them.
 
The irrepressible allure he feels for an Earth-born visitor, Itanya, threatens to overwhelm him, yet through her, Zrahnz discovers the secret that can ease the devastating agony of his illness. Could she be the key to his survival and the future of Triaxeyn?
 
With Q-1 Raydren at his side, and with the influence of the Oracles, he discovers corrupted truths and a forgotten prophecy. But he must make a crucial, life-saving decision, or else his people and everyone he loves could be destroyed.
 
He was denied his rule, denied his birthright, and denied the one truth that would save his life.
 
He wasn’t supposed to survive, he wasn’t supposed to fight, and he wasn’t supposed to receive, the
                                                     RITES OF HEIRDRON

Review: Taking a chance with a new science fantasy author is usually risky, especially in this genre. And although I got a copy of the book as a prize in a contest, reading the first few pages of Rites of Heirdron impressed me enough to really “sink” in its world. And what a world it was–Newland Moon has a knack for crafting scenes, descriptions and tension that can take your breath away, especially those particular scenes with Zrahnz and Itanya in them.

I cannot give away the spoilers here, of course, but let me try to describe some of its best narrative aspects. The story dredges through a number of meaningful issues–it touches upon the issue of race, although in an “interplanetary” sense, but racism nonetheless. It reminds me of those episodes in the original Star Trek in which the central plot navigated these touchy subjects with thrilling finesse, and that’s the same with Rites. It’s not at all preachy with some of its heavier meanings; instead, author Moon subtly slips everything in between the layers of scenes, right along with the story’s forward movement.

I also love the fact that Zhranz is saddled with both a blessing and a curse in many ways. His power is double-edged, like a Damoclean sword hanging over his head, and that fact makes Itanya’s presence all the more meaningful.

I love the twists and turns of this little book. At its best, Rites is delightfully entertaining and should keep you enthralled for many hours. A great read!

Author: Newland Moon is a Speculative Fiction author originally from Illinois. Even before she started kindergarten, she loved to read. That love only grew and blossomed into a love of writing as well.

Since 2015, she has written eight full-length novels and published four. She loves creating complex, diverse characters and multi-layered plots. Rites of Heirdron – Book I is her first Science Fantasy Romance novel.

When she is not wrangling stampeding miniature dachshunds, being super mom, managing her 9 to 5, or skillfully navigating a grocery store with the skill of a master, she enjoys reading new authors and discovering new worlds.

Book Review: Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer

51Wv7sLuYDLSynopsis: Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a secret conspiracy of mages has resorted to harnessing the powers of Hell to save their legacy. The only mages who can oppose them are Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship. But both Braden and Quin are compromised, harboring terrible and tragic secrets.

Will Braden and Quin be able to prevent the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to the darkmages’ sinister manipulations and join their conspiracy?

Review: Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer is an exceptionally well-written fantasy epic with dark undertones. Spencer weaves a compelling tale of intrigue, sacrifice, betrayal, and love all enveloped in a magical world on the fringe of war and disaster.

When a powerful secret order is discovered plotting the morally unthinkable, can a few conflicted and emotionally scarred characters intervene in time to prevent an apocalyptic event that would change the very fabric of their existence? The perfidious depth that some might sink when confronted with their own mortality is hauntingly brought forth within these pages.

Darkstorm encompasses strong themes and multidimensional characters. Of them, the irrepressibly scarred Quin is my favorite. I found myself routing for him in some chapters and scolding him in others. With the rich cast of characters—each flawed, yet each reaching within their depths to accomplish a common goal, Darkstorm will keep you engrossed in a fast-moving and sometimes jaw-dropping plot.

The magical element is amazing as well as The Magic Field, the Well of Tears, the Circle of Convergence, and even the thanacrysts (demonic hounds that feed off the life force of a mage). M.L. Spencer’s imaginative musings are to be applauded. I cannot wait until the next novel in this series releases. Highly recommended!

Author: M.L. Spencer loves fantasy, especially favorite authors Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, David Eddings, Neil Gaiman, Joe Ambercrombie, and Terry Goodkind. 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Fantasy.